Blue nails bending backwards on an old computer.
Still from Soft Nails by Nadja Buttendorf (2018). Image courtesy of the artist.

Soft Nails ~ ♥[ASMR] Kleincomputer Robotron KC87 ♥ | A Video by Nadja Buttendorf

December 6, 2019 – March 6, 2020
Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art | 1, 460 Portage Ave | Winnipeg MB | Canada

Plug In ICA is screening Soft Nails ~ ♥[ASMR] Kleincomputer Robotron KC87 ♥ by Nadja Buttendorf  in our Breezeway as part of  Labour of Love: On Digital Economies in the Artsa series of lectures, screenings, and workshops. The video will be on display until March 6, 2020.

The KC stands for Kleincomputer, in English, literally small computer. Released in 1987 in the GDR by VEB Robotron-Meßelektronik”Otto Schön” Dresden. Originally, the KC 87 was intended as a home computer (HC) for private households. Due to a lack of resources, however, the KC87 was only in use as an educational computer in educational institutions.

ASMR, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a net cultural form of physical stimulation through whispering and soft sounds that has developed and spread on the largest online platform YouTube. The listeners and viewers find the tingling on the skin, triggered by those very soft noises, very pleasant. The sight of bent fingernails, on the other hand, is often perceived as unpleasant. In Soft Nails, artificial fingernails made of silicone reinforce the viewer’s reaction. The typical noises of ASMR videos are complemented by this visually irritating stimulus.

Throughout the video, Buttendorf whispers the information about the KC87.  In most ASMR videos only current high-tech utensils appear to evoke tingles. In Soft Nails, Buttendorf deliberately uses high-tech from the GDR and transforms it into a pop cultural format. This video work is a satellite project for the web series Robotron – a tech opera.

Nadja Buttendorf (b.1984) questions current norms and codes of gender constructions and value creation mechanisms of the human body in our digital society. Her works make it clear that our understanding of technology is also linked to patriarchal power relations. Her interactive works and video projects, on the other hand, draw multi-layered new narratives in which women are visible as an elementary part of the history of technology. She extracts communicative moments of participation in the internet both in her performative jewellery objects and in her tutorial workshops. DIY, as a widespread online aesthetic, is used specifically as a strategy of access and rejection of neoliberal work ethics. Works and workshops by Nadja Buttendorf have been shown at the HKW, Berlin; the Hartware MedienKunstVerein, Dortmund; Künstlerhaus, Bremen; LaGaîtéLyrique, Paris; the MU Eindhoven; the NRW-Forum, Düsseldorf; Halle 14 – Zentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig; the D21, Leipzig; and the, Berlin. She has also given lecture-performances at Re:publica, the CCC, Creamcake and the nGbK in Berlin. Buttendorf is a trained goldsmith and studied fine arts at the Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle (Saale).

Labour of Love or LOL, takes the “public course” as a platform for engagement, this program highlights the various ways in which the digital is interrogated, explored, celebrated, pushed to its limit, reworked, re-invented by artists, scholars, curators, writers and others. The course encompasses a full array of events, delving into such topics as coding, circuit bending, VR, 360 video, scanning, and 3D printing. Divided into two streams, a lecture and screening series, and workshops, Labour of Love at its most general examines the relationship between the economics of labour and the digital arts as it contends with the conditions of racial capitalism. As a research platform, we aim to build an understanding of the digital by presenting artists who invent new trajectories through various technologies.

All lectures and screenings are free and open to the public.

Associated Programming:

Labour of Love: On Digital Economies in the Arts

October 17 to December 17, 2019

Thursday, October 17 | 7pm

Screening: Videos by Hannah Black

October 17-November 17

Screening in Plug In’s Breezeway

More, Less, About the Same (2019)

By Alyssa Bornn

Thursday, November 7 | 7pm

Lecture by Suzanne Kite

Monday, November 18 | 8pm

Presentation by Hyphen-Labs

Friday, November 22 | 6pm

Presentation by IM4 Media Lab

Friday, November 22-23

Workshop by IM4 Media Lab

Monday, December 2 | 7pm

Lecture by Ali Shamas Qadeer

Co-presentation with School of Art, Graphic Design, University of Manitoba

Monday, December 2-6

Workshop by Ali Shamas Qadeer

Thursday, December 5 | 7pm

Lecture by Morehshin Allahyari

Co-presentation with Institute for the Humanities, University of Manitoba

Tuesday, December 17 | 7pm

Keynote Address by Hannah Black

December 6, 2019 – March 6, 2020

Screening in Plug In’s Breezeway

Soft Nails ~ ♥[ASMR] Kleincomputer Robotron KC87 ♥

By Nadja Buttendorf

For participant bios + more information on the program:

This program is made possible through the Digital Strategy Fund: Digital and Intelligence by the Canada Council for the Arts.